Chargers enter Brandon Staley Era with high expectations
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-9)
New faces: Coach Brandon Staley, C Corey Linsley, Gs Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi, TE Jared Cook, QB Chase Daniel, OT Rashawn Slater, CB Asante Samuel Jr.
Key losses: TE Hunter Henry, DE Melvin Ingram, C Dan Feeney, OT Sam Tevi, G Forrest Lamp, S Rayshawn Jenkins, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Casey Hayward, G Trai Turner.
Strengths: AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert quickly became the franchise quarterback last season after setting rookie records with 31 touchdown passes and eight 300-yard games. Receiver Keenan Allen has at least 97 receptions each of the past four seasons and Mike Williams has proved he can stretch the field. The defense is switching to a 4-3 scheme and should be bolstered by the return of safety Derwin James, who was an All-Pro selection as a rookie in 2018 but has played in only five games the past two years.
Weaknesses: The offensive line has four new starters, but lacks depth. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga continues to be plagued by injuries and the two swing tackles slated to back him up struggled throughout the preseason. New coach Brandon Staley has brought plenty of energy to the team, but it remains an inexperienced coaching staff.
Camp Development: For the first time in at least three years, the Chargers got out of the preseason healthy. Staley sat most of his starters during the three preseason games, with only rookie offensive tackle Slater and cornerback Samuel Jr. seeing significant playing time. The Chargers have had one of the league’s worst special teams units the past two years, which is why Staley and new coordinator Derius Swinton spent at least 30 minutes of each practice on special teams.
Fantasy Player To Watch: Austin Ekeler is tied among running backs in receiving touchdowns (13) over the past three seasons and is third in receiving yards (1,800). Despite missing seven games last season due to a hamstring injury, he had three games with more than 140 scrimmage yards.
FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 33-1. Over/under wins: 9 1/2.
Expectations: Staley has injected confidence into a team that has had losing seasons the last two years after making the playoffs in 2018. New offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s system should be better suited to Herbert’s talents, while the defense has two playmakers in James and edge rusher Joey Bosa. The Chargers have high expectations, but will need to stay healthy as well as show that this new coaching staff can adapt to challenges.
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